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Indiana University

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Rivalry renewed
Indiana at Purdue
When: 6:30 p.m. today
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.1 FM, 92.7 FM

Hoosiers face tough task to avoid 20th loss

Indiana had never had a 20-loss season before last year, when the Hoosiers finished 6-25.

IU (9-19, 3-13 Big Ten) is one defeat away from duplicating the dubious distinction. And today’s task won’t be easy, with a visit to No. 7 Purdue (24-4, 12-4).

“Our kids have been resilient and have come to practice each day with the mind-set that they are going to get better,” IU coach Tom Crean said Tuesday. “Our margin of error is so small that I think sometimes the focus tends to be on what might not go right or what we didn’t do well.

“As a coach and the leader of this program, I am going to focus on what we are doing right. We cannot put players on the floor and expect great things from them if they play with fear and anxiety. When we have played the game without worry and trust our abilities, we have shown we can compete at a high level.”

Indiana gave one of its most inspired efforts of the season Feb. 4 against Purdue.

The Hoosiers took the then-No. 8 Boilermakers down to the wire, falling at home 78-75. Indiana missed the front end of one-and-one free throws three times in the final 4:30, just some of the missed opportunities.

“We had an opportunity to get them at home, but we didn’t make the plays we needed to in the end,” freshman guard Jordan Hulls said. “You have to give them credit.”

That was the third in what is now a 10-game losing streak for IU. The last seven losses have been by double digits.

Crean knows Purdue will be a challenge, even without Robbie Hummel.

“I’m not so sure that Robbie Hummel is not the most valuable player to his team in the Big Ten,” Crean said. “He can bring the ball up the court, he’s a matchup nightmare because he can score inside, he can score at midrange, he can score from three, he can facilitate the offense and he makes 90 percent of his free throws. But Purdue has a ton of experienced guys who have been battle tested, and you could see in their games recently that they have risen to the occasion more times than not.”

lpope@jg.net

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